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Implicit testing is neuroscience bridgehead

News, 12 November 2015

LONDON: Brand owners are still reluctant to use neuromarketing, but simpler-to-deploy implicit testing might help increase the overall popularity of techniques that tap into people's unconscious motivations, research experts have told an event organised by Warc and Walnut Unlimited.

The panel session, including both agency- and client-side perspectives, offered some practical advice for brands wishing to take up new techniques. Warc subscribers can read a full account of the event in Neuro, implicit testing and decision science: How brands can make the most of new MR techniques.

Russell King, research director at Orange Group, said that the sheer range of techniques on offer can be confusing. "It's about understanding the information in context, and then making a decision," he said.

"Neuro [techniques] can help, but from a corporate perspective, there's a long way to go to educate people."

In terms of precisely which techniques stand to gain in popularity, implicit testing was a clear winner among the panel. This discipline, which is a lot simpler to execute than more "hard core" neuro techniques such as EEG, was praised for its comparative convenience.

It is "easier for clients to understand as it looks a bit like traditional MR", noted Phil Barden, managing director of Decode Marketing.

And Duncan Smith, managing director of Mindlab, added: "With implicit testing, it's something we can do at home – not in a brightly-lit room with loads of other people."

Client-agency relationships also remain a major issue when it comes to encouraging adoption of new techniques, with one panellist pointing out that communications goals, such as boosting a brand's NPS, are not necessarily the same as consumer goals.

For Barden, this issue was structural. "There's always a tension between short and long-term business needs," he said. "The guys who are commissioning ads have quarterly sales targets. They are not thinking three years in advance."

From the client side, King suggested there was a long way to go before this situation would change. "There needs to be a huge change in how organisations brief their multiple agencies," he said.

"This is a big task. We need a critical mass of organisations making this change – then others can see them finding success, and will make the change, too."

Data sourced from Warc